Strength training burns fat, builds muscle more than cardio: Stanford study

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By Dan Sears

Cardio may be good for your health in the long run — but it may not be the best method to burn fat and build muscle.

A study has found that those who did strength training lost more fat and had better blood sugar maintenance than those who did cardio or a combination of both.

Researchers from Stanford University looked at nearly 200 people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes who participated in a nine-month exercise routine of strength training, cardio or both.

Findings, published this month in the journal Diabetologia, showed that the group that went through just strength training exercises had better progress, doing workouts such as shoulder presses and leg presses three times a week compared to those who utilized the treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike.

“The benefits of strength training just make everything in your life easier,” Melissa Boyd, certified personal trainer and head coach at Tempo, declared to Insider.

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The strength training group lost fat, gained muscle and had more consistent blood sugar levels.

Female athlete having strength training with kettlebells in health club.
Findings showed that the group who went through just strength training exercises had better progress.
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Losing weight happens when you’re in a calorie deficit, which means you’re losing more calories than you’re taking in.

However, cardio and strength training work hand-in-hand for longevity, since it’s important to have muscle and strong bones, in addition to lungs and a heart that work properly.

One workout of strength training might not stave off as many calories as a cardio workout, but because it builds muscle tissue — which requires more energy to maintain — it can ultimately burn more calories overall.

“What we’re really looking for is lean muscle, which is going to make your metabolism work a little faster,” Boyd said.

Side view of two attractive sports women on running track. Girls on treadmill
Cardio and strength training work hand-in-hand for longevity.
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She also stressed that despite common misconceptions, strength training and building muscle don’t make you gain weight — even if the number on the scale gets larger. Those workouts can leave you leaner and healthier with a different build.

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“I think it gives people a healthier idea of what weight should look like when they see their body looking stronger and leaner but the weight maybe goes up,” Boyd told the outlet. “They realize maybe that number isn’t something they should live and die by, which I see a lot, especially with women.”

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